10 Spectacular Movies That Helped Redeem 2016

This year sucked, but these movies didn't.

Captain America Civil War Iron Man

2016 has been a disappointing year in movies, especially compared to its much superior predecessor, which gave us everything from The Hateful Eight and Sicario, to Deus Ex, Inside Out and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as smaller success stories such as Tangerine, Room, The Lobster and Amy – not to mention Mad Max: Fury Road, which was arguably the greatest cinematic experience ever created by a person born of this world.

By comparison, 2016 is responsible for a myriad of forgettable superhero movies, a handful of passable blockbusters, and a humble selection of smaller independent gems, most of which creeped past without anyone noticing. Doctor Strange – despite its interesting premise and spectacular visuals – was surprisingly uninteresting. Suicide Squad was complete crap, and the less said about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice the absolute better.

That said, there were some honourable mentions which only narrowly missed inclusion this list, including: Nocturnal Animals, Deadpool, Arrival, Rogue One and Moonlight, all of which impressed in various ways, but weren’t quite enough to redeem this generally uninspiring year, which will probably go down as generally unremarkable, despite these 10 exceptions…

10. The Neon Demon

dont breathe poster
Amazon Studios

The Neon Demon is a surprisingly deep movie, considering its shallow premise. The visuals are easily the most remarkable aspect – the cinematography is particularly breath-taking – but, thematically, the movie is saying a surprising amount with considerably little. The director’s previous effort, Only God Forgives, attempted something similar – using symbolism and visuals to express character motivations – but was mostly just underwhelming.

By comparison, The Neon Demon avoids understating secondary elements – such as story and character – in favour of pure spectacle. The movie is stunningly beautiful, but there’s plenty beneath the surface to motivate continued investment, as well as some wonderfully demented twists permeating a visual descent into madness. The characters – though deplorable – make a disturbing amount of sense, sustained by the strength of the performances, which substantiate the more fantastical elements.


Formerly an assistant editor, Richard's interests include detective fiction and Japanese horror movies.